»Don‘t fight forces, use them.«

Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Council Houses

Luca Zanier's photographs of the talking shops of power

  • The UN Security Council I, New York, USA, 2008. A room kept in constant readiness should a world crisis suddenly erupt, when a meeting might be called at two hours notice. (All images courtesy the artist and the Anzenberger Gallery) 1 / 11  The UN Security Council I, New York, USA, 2008. A room kept in constant readiness should a world crisis suddenly erupt, when a meeting might be called at two hours notice. (All images courtesy the artist and the Anzenberger Gallery)
  • UN Trusteeship Council, I, New York, USA, 2008. Ash wood trim is designed to help the acoustics, in a space designed in 1951 as a gift of Denmark to the United Nations by architect and designer Finn Juhl. 2 / 11  UN Trusteeship Council, I, New York, USA, 2008. Ash wood trim is designed to help the acoustics, in a space designed in 1951 as a gift of Denmark to the United Nations by architect and designer Finn Juhl.
  • CGT Workers Trade Union Confederation I, Paris, France, 2010. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the Confédération Générale du Travail, France’s oldest, most influential trade union, still powerful in times of economic cri 3 / 11  CGT Workers Trade Union Confederation I, Paris, France, 2010. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the Confédération Générale du Travail, France’s oldest, most influential trade union, still powerful in times of economic cri
  • UN General Assembly I, New York, USA, 2008. Up to 1,800 people can be accommodated in this room. 4 / 11  UN General Assembly I, New York, USA, 2008. Up to 1,800 people can be accommodated in this room.
  • French Communist Party PCF I ( Parti Communiste Français) , Paris, 2010.  Another design by Oscar Niemeyer, who as a convinced communist, waived his fee for the work. 5 / 11  French Communist Party PCF I ( Parti Communiste Français) , Paris, 2010.  Another design by Oscar Niemeyer, who as a convinced communist, waived his fee for the work.
  • The New School I, New York, USA, 2008. The Art Deco Tishman Auditorium built in 1930. This university’s graduates include director Woody Allen, the playwright Tennessee Williams and Israeli President Shimon Peres. 6 / 11  The New School I, New York, USA, 2008. The Art Deco Tishman Auditorium built in 1930. This university’s graduates include director Woody Allen, the playwright Tennessee Williams and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
  • Federal House I, National Council, Bern, Switzerland, 2013. The place where the 26 Swiss cantons send deputies. Push buttons for voting are now concealed in the unused inkwells of the benches. 7 / 11  Federal House I, National Council, Bern, Switzerland, 2013. The place where the 26 Swiss cantons send deputies. Push buttons for voting are now concealed in the unused inkwells of the benches.
  • UN Room XIX I, Geneva, Switzerland, 2013. Main Stage : Room XIX of the European Headquarters of the United Nations, a building over 600 metres in length. 8 / 11  UN Room XIX I, Geneva, Switzerland, 2013. Main Stage : Room XIX of the European Headquarters of the United Nations, a building over 600 metres in length.
  • UN XXIV Room I, Geneva ( 2013) One of the nearly three dozen conference rooms the European Headquarters of the United Nations, its air conditioning running on cooled water from the nearby Lake Geneva. 9 / 11  UN XXIV Room I, Geneva ( 2013) One of the nearly three dozen conference rooms the European Headquarters of the United Nations, its air conditioning running on cooled water from the nearby Lake Geneva.
  • FIFA Executive Committee Room, Zurich, Switzerland, 2013. An underground meeting hall, its huge crystal chandelier shaped like an arena, where as FIFA President Joseph Blatter says, the light must “come from people who are in there”. 10 / 11  FIFA Executive Committee Room, Zurich, Switzerland, 2013. An underground meeting hall, its huge crystal chandelier shaped like an arena, where as FIFA President Joseph Blatter says, the light must “come from people who are in there”.
  • Regione Lombardia I Consiglio, Milan, Italy, 2013. A symbolic centre in Milan's Pirelli Tower of the Regional Government of Lombardy, a region that accounts for one-fifth of Italian GDP. 11 / 11  Regione Lombardia I Consiglio, Milan, Italy, 2013. A symbolic centre in Milan's Pirelli Tower of the Regional Government of Lombardy, a region that accounts for one-fifth of Italian GDP.

This series of photographs entitled: “Corridors of Power” by Swiss photographer Luca Zanier are visually powerful, but also literally power-full – depicting the conference rooms, assembly halls and talking shops of power, deep within the institutions that variously structure and control so many aspects of the contemporary world, but that we rarely see.

These are the vessels and spheres of waxing and waning social, political and economic influence and their architecture is often designed to vividly express this: from the post-war pomp of the UN Assembly Hall, to the mood-music of Oscar Niemeyer’s French Communist Party Headquarters, the dark subterranean environment of the FIFA executive conference hall, or the Art Deco Looney Tunes auditorium of the New School in New York.

In these spaces the power-people hold court who can make decisions affecting us all. Yet in Zanier’s photographs they are absent, the spaces presented as empty, silent before the talking, listening or even shouting begins – an appropriately pregnant pause before our upcoming Acoustics issue!

And in an extra twist, Zanier’s images shift the power balance in the spaces, by putting us, the viewer, in the seat of power: from the viewpoint of the speaker, judge or chair, facing out into the cloud of delegates’ chairs that circle around. As Zanier explains it:

“A further pursuit of mine is to portray these spaces or rooms in a fresh astonishing manner. Most are familiar with a parliamentary hall from the perspective of the spectators’ tribune, however only a few have seen the space from the physical vantage point of the chairperson. It is exactly this view that I chose at the UN Security Council”.

These are the spaces where sometimes history turns, for as Sir Winston Churchill famously said: “To jaw, jaw is always better than to war, war.”

Luca Zanier is represented by Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna.

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PUBLISHED 23 Apr 2014 WHAT Art Lens WHO Luca Zanier AUTHOR

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